Donation to Archdiocesan Archives highlights American Archives Month
October 13, 2015
HOUSTON — On April 21, 1936, a crowd of more than 100,000 converged on the San Jacinto Battleground near La Porte. They came to attend a Pontifical Mass commemorating the battle that took place there 100 years earlier, part of a year-long celebration of the Texas Centennial. The victory that General Sam Houston’s army won that day helped Texas gain its independence from Mexico.
Bishop Christopher Byrne and R.H. Kelley, the general chairman of the celebration, spent more than two years planning the event, which by all accounts was a huge success. The Southern Messenger, the state’s Catholic newspaper, proclaimed that the “commemoration will live as [the] greatest Catholic patriotic demonstration in the history of the South.” Four Archbishops and 30 bishops from across the country joined Bishop Byre in celebrating the Mass. Governor James Allred and Houston Mayor Oscar Holcombe were present, with several justices of the Texas Supreme Court and other government officials. Special honored guests included Sam Houston’s son Col. Andrew Jackson Houston and descendants of General Sidney Sherman.
It is surprising, given the scope of this event, how few records of it remain in the Archives of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. We were very pleased, therefore, to receive a donation of artifacts from the Mass. The two small pins pictured were worn by Mildred Dybalski, then a junior at St. Agnes Academy in Houston. She was among the 2,000 students from Catholic schools around the diocese who formed a living “Lone Star” banner during the Mass, which then shifted to form the American flag. Her daughter Marianita Paddock Snodgrass generously donated the pins to the Archives.
Donations of other materials or artifacts from the San Jacinto Mass would be very welcome.
The two small pins pictured were worn by Mildred Dybalski, then a junior at St. Agnes Academy in Houston. In 1936, she was among the 2,000 students from Catholic schools around the then-diocese who formed a living “Lone Star” banner during the Mass, which then shifted to form the American flag. Photo courtesy of Archdiocesan Office of Archives.